Property Disrepair Claims
It would appear to us that there has been a significant rise in the number of claims being bought against Landlords for tenanted properties being in a state of disrepair.
Claims are bought by tenants usually of properties held under an AST in accordance with the terms of the Pre-Action Protocol of for Housing Disrepair. This protocol sets down the procedure for tenants to bring a claim.
The Basis of a Disrepair Claim
A disrepair claim can arise in a number of ways usually out of contract and from statute. A tenancy agreement between a landlord and tenant is essentially a contractual agreement between the parties. This contract usually has express obligations on how the property is to be maintained.
In addition to the contractual position, the law also implies a number of obligations upon landlords. Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act provides an obligation on Landlords to maintain the exterior and structure of rental properties.
Furthermore, it is implied that any repairs that the landlord performs will be carried out with reasonable care and skill and with the use of proper materials.
Factors to Consider
There are a number of factors that a landlord will need to consider when addressing one of these claims, they include but are not limited to;
- The extent of the landlord repairing obligation
- The extent of disrepair – is the item in a state of disrepair in accordance with the lease and law?
- Did the Landlord have knowledge of the disrepair?
- Has a reasonable amount of time been given to the landlord to perform repairs?
If a claim has been brought against you, we would advise that you immediately seek advice, under the terms of the protocol a strict timescale is set down for the provision of a response. Steps should be taken to analyse the allegations, inspect the property and carry out the repairs where the landlord is responsible.
The tenant may as part of their claim seek damages to compensate them for the loss they have suffered as a result of the disrepair. These damages are intended to put the tenant in the same position they would have been in had the landlord not breached the obligations. It will include an element of compensation for the tenant as well as recovery of their financial losses.
If you are a landlord or agent and a claim has been bought against you for the property disrepair, urgently contact our litigation team to discuss your options.
Holly Minney, Head of the Dispute Resolution team, said:
“We are seeing a growing number of property disrepair claims being pursued against landlords, some firms are offering to represent tenants on a no win no fee basis, meaning that it can be done at no costs to the tenant. Landlords and their agents should be sure to keep a record of all complaints, attendances and works carried out to their property to ensure that they can defend these claims.”